MASSILLON – Did you know that orangutans live 50 to 60 years? Or that their diet consists mainly of leaves and fruits?

These are just a few of the facts Gorrell’s students Melody Accetta and Madalynn Kemp learned from their research on the animal.

“They look like monkeys,” said Melody, 5.

She is a student in Eileen Sirgo’s kindergarten class. 9-year-old Madalynn is a third year student in Tammy Sorensen’s class.

Sirgo and Sorensen’s classes got together to write and illustrate a book about animals they might see on a trip to the zoo.

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On Friday, the students got their first glimpse of the completed project during a reveal party.

“On Our Trip to the Zoo” features original artwork and animal stories created by students.

Gorrell Elementary School third-grade teacher Tammy Sorensen, left, and kindergarten teacher Eileen Sirgo revealed the book on Friday that their classes have teamed up to write and illustrate. "About our trio at the zoo" contains information and pictures about the animals you see at the zoo.

Trip to the zoo

After receiving a flyer in the mail from Studentreasures Publishing, a company that provides free tools to help young authors create their own books, Sirgo thought why not give it a try.

“After the year we had, it seemed like the right thing to do this year,” said the kindergarten teacher.

The company provided everything she needed to write her book, including examples of published books. The only cost was the purchase of the finished book.

Working with kindergarten children, Sirgo decided to team up with older students to create the content. She turned to her fellow professor Sorensen. The two had taught together in third grade before Sirgo moved to teach younger learners four years ago.

Students in Eileen Sirgo's kindergarten class and Tammy Sorensen's third grade class at Gorrell Elementary School have teamed up to write and illustrate a book about animals you might see at the zoo.  The animals included a lion, penguin, platypus, and cheetah.

Kindergartens have teamed up with a third grader. They had a month to observe and collect facts about an animal as well as to create illustrations for the book.

Their literary journey began with virtual excursions to zoos around the world. From there, they chose an animal that they would like to put at the center of their story.

The students then watched live camera feeds of their animals in the zoo to learn more about their creatures.

For Melody and Madalynn, they learned that orangutans like to sleep during the day.

“All he does is sleep during the day,” Madalynn said. “It was a bit boring.”

Switching to a live camera from another zoo, the couple found another more interesting orangutan.

The primate used a saw to cut a piece of wood.

“That was the best part,” Melody said with a laugh.

Students in Tammy Sorensen and Eileen Sirgo's classes at Gorrell Elementary School got their first glimpse of the book they wrote and illustrated.

After collecting their research, students get together to write a paragraph about their animals.

Each story began with “On our trip to the zoo, we could see…”. The kindergarten student ended the paragraph with a concluding sentence, Sirgo said.

The young people continued their partnership by creating an illustration to accompany their paragraph. The third grader drew the animal and its habitat, and the youngest colored the picture.

As well as having a bit of fun, the project included a number of lessons, including reading and writing, art and science, Sirgo said.

Students also learned about the process of making a book and the elements that make up a book, such as a table of contents, a spine, and a title page.

The project also forged lasting bonds between the students.

Madalynn Kemp, 9, third grader, and Melody Accetta, 5, kindergarten child, have written about orangutans.

“They’re looking for each other in the hallway,” Sorensen said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Teaming up is nothing new for Sorensen and Sirgo. Teacher buddies have made reading buddies with their students since Sirgo entered kindergarten.

“We just took it to the next level,” Sorensen said.

During the revealing party, the students were able to view the book. Older students read the passages to their kindergarten counterparts. The book made the children smile.

“We are very proud of you,” Sirgo told the students. “It’s beautiful. You are now published authors.”

The student book even has its own ISBN – international standard book number – a unique identifier for publications.

“It was a lot of fun,” Madalynn said of the process, adding that her favorite part was working with her partner Melody. “It was pretty cool.”

The students also ate a donut and milk to celebrate the release of the book.

Students in Tammy Sorensen's third grade class and Eileen Sirgo's kindergarten class at Gorrell Elementary School enjoy donuts and milk on Friday at a book reveal night.  The students have teamed up to write and illustrate a book about animals you might see at the zoo.  On Friday, the students got their first glimpse of the finished book.

The book is available for purchase for $ 23.99. Anyone interested can contact the teachers for more details. A copy will be presented to the school next week to be placed in the school library, Sirgo added.

“Are we going to start over? Sirgo asked. “I’m pretty sure. I have heard the mother of one student say that she can’t wait for her other child to do it in kindergarten. “

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @aknappINDE